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Human Capital Services

Human Capital Services
Kansas State University
103 Edwards Hall
1810 Kerr Drive
Manhattan, KS 66506-4801

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email: hr@ksu.edu 

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Emergency Furlough Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Like many institutions across the country, the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 has had a major impact on the State of Kansas and its institutions of higher education. Kansas State University is working diligently to ensure the continuation of essential functions and operations. 

Human Capital Services provides guidance below for some of the most common emergency furlough questions that employees may have during this time. Please continue to check back often as new FAQs will be added as needed. 

GENERAL QUESTIONS

1. What is a Furlough?

A furlough is the placement of an employee in a temporary non-duty, non-pay status because of lack of work or funds, or other non-disciplinary reasons. It is a mandatory leave without pay status for a preset number of hours during each pay period covered by the furlough.

 

2. The university is classifying this furlough as an emergency furlough? What is an emergency furlough?

An emergency furlough occurs if there is an immediate or imminent lack of funding to continue operations or any emergency that results in an unanticipated interruption of funding. 

 

3. Why is the university selecting a furlough?

A furlough of employees allows the university to preserve the fiscal stability of the university while also preserving employment, as much as possible, for our employees. At this time, furloughs are due specifically to the direct impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on revenue and the limited operations that create conditions where there may be no work available for some employees to perform.

 

4. Who is being furloughed and when will employees be notified?

Employees who work in areas where there is either reduced revenue and/or work may be furloughed. You will be notified by your department and HCS if you are being furloughed. Notification will be sent via email and letter to impacted employees.

HCS will work with departments to develop a communication plan for notifying employees appropriately. Employees may be notified at different times depending on where the department is with their plan to address the budget. HCS is glad to partner with departments to discuss. 

 

5. I thought we are supposed to receive at least a 30-day notice before a furlough could happen?

An emergency furlough does not require notification due to an unanticipated interruption of funding. 

 

6. If I am an exempt (salaried) employee, can I perform work during the furlough period?

No, there is no exception to this. An employee who received furlough notification cannot work whether salaried or hourly during the furlough period timeframe. In addition, a furloughed employee cannot volunteer to work for the university during the furlough period. If your hours have been reduced, you should only work during the approved period of time.

 

7. How will furlough days be enforced? (i.e. will K-State email accounts be disabled on furlough days?) What are the consequences for access to K-State resources of taking furlough days? (email, OneDrive, databases, etc.).

Supervisors are responsible for employees complying with not working on furlough days. Employees on furlough will retain access to electronic resources, including email.

 

8. What are the penalties for working while furloughed?

Employees must be paid for all hours worked. Working on furlough days will require taking another furlough day. Employees who do not comply with furlough days may be subject to discipline. Contact Employee Relations & Engagement for further guidance.

 

9. What counts as “work”? Is professional development, collaboration with colleagues at other institutions, service to professional organizations, etc., allowed?

Anything related to your official duties for K-State or work that you would normally do for pay at the university counts as work which includes K-State committees. If faculty members provide service that would be recorded on an activity report and be evaluated on, it is considered work. Services or work that you provide or contribute to outside organizations such as a professional association or consulting would not be considered time worked.

 

10. What if an employee on furlough is contacted about a mission-critical work, such as a failing piece of equipment. Can the employee respond?

Supervisors should plan for the absence(s) during furlough days. In an extreme situation where employees must be contacted for an emergency work-related items, that day will no longer count as a furlough leave without pay date. The employee must be paid and the remainder of the day the employee may work or use accrued leave. The supervisor will need to establish another furlough date to make up for when the employee was called to work.

 

11. If I am furloughed, I am still planning to work and just won't report the time. Is that Okay?

Employees who are furloughed are not to perform any work for the duration of the furloughed period. While the dedication and sentiment that motivates this kind of offer is definitely appreciated, the Department of Labor cannot allow employees to perform work and not be paid for it. If employees work without prior approval, the employee could be faced with disciplinary action up to and including decision-making leave (USS), demotion, and/or dismissal.

 

12. Are bargaining unit employees impacted differently during a furlough?

There is no distinction between positions held by bargaining unit employees and non-bargaining unit employees in the event of an emergency furlough due to a lapse of funding. 

 

13. How will I know when I can come back to work?

Your department will contact you with a notification of a return date.    

 

14. Can I be asked to report to work before the furlough ends?

If it is determined your position is needed before the furlough ends, you will need to report to work when requested. Your department will make contact with you when you are to report to work.

 

15. May employees take other jobs while on furlough?

Yes, as long as it complies with existing ethics and other requirements for outside employment. While on furlough, the employee remains an employee of K-State and therefore is expected to report to work when requested. Before accepting outside employment, if not choosing to resign, you should consult with your immediate supervisor. See University Handbook Appendix S.

 

16. Will any time that I am furloughed count against my State of Kansas length of service?

The furlough will not affect your continuous service. You will retain your seniority and your continuous service, length of service, anniversary date. 

 

17. As a USS employee, will I receive my Longevity Bonus Pay while on furlough?

If you are eligible, you will receive your longevity bonus pay as scheduled.

 

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS 

18. Can I file for unemployment if I am furloughed?  

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits during the furlough period. Human Capital Services (HCS) will submit furlough information on your behalf to the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) Unemployment Center. By HCS submitting your information to KDOL, this will complete the application process for you. Please note you should not file your own application for benefits as this will delay or stop the payment process.  It will be your responsibility to understand the eligibility requirements and report/file weekly claims to receive payments. If you are not an existing Kansas Unemployment Benefits user, you will need to register for an account at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Account/Login.aspx. Should you have questions regarding unemployment benefits, please contact the Kansas Department of Labor unemployment center at 800-292-6333 or at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Contact.aspx.  Visit the KDOL's Weekly Claim FAQ on their website at www.getkansasbenefits.gov for step-by-step instructions. Please reference "My Employer Filed My Claim for Benefits by Spreadsheet: What Do I Do Next?" (pdf) flyer.

 

19. Do I have to file weekly claims even though Human Capital Services will submit notification of the furlough? 

Yes, the employee is responsible to file weekly claims and be aware of all eligibility and reporting requirements in order to receive payment.  HCS is submitting the furlough information to the Kansas Department of Labor with the intent to make this process easier. If you are not an existing Kansas Unemployment Benefits user, you will need to register for an account at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Account/Login.aspx.

 

20. Will I receive unemployment benefits if I move from full-time work to a part-time work?  

You may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits while you are still working, if your hours or pay have been reduced or if you are unable to work because you have been put into mandatory quarantine during the coronavirus outbreak. The unemployment office will consider part-time employment in your work history when figuring your benefits. 

 

21. If I am an employee who has been impacted by an emergency furlough, do I need to file an unemployment application with the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) after Human Capital Services submitted notification?

No. Kansas State University completed the application portion on your behalf by filing a spreadsheet, which serves as your application. Please do not file an application because K-State already did this portion and if you do, it will result in a delay in benefits. Please note you should not file your own application for benefits as this will delay or stop the payment process.  It will be your responsibility to understand the eligibility requirements and report/file weekly claims to receive payments. If you are not an existing Kansas Unemployment Benefits user, you will need to register for an account at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Account/Login.aspx. Should you have questions regarding unemployment benefits, please contact the Kansas Department of Labor unemployment center at 800-292-6333 or at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Contact.aspx.  Visit the KDOL's Weekly Claim FAQ on their website at www.getkansasbenefits.gov for step-by-step instructions. Please reference "My Employer Filed My Claim for Benefits by Spreadsheet: What Do I Do Next?" (pdf) flyer.

 

22. What do I need to do after K-State has filed the unemployment application (submitted a spreadsheet) on my behalf to the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL)?

The spreadsheet is the initial filing for unemployment insurance benefits. Each individual employee or claimant is responsible for filing their own weekly claims honestly and accurately. If a weekly claim is not filed, it cannot be paid.

Unemployment Claim Steps:

1. Human Capital Services will file your application for unemployment benefits on your behalf. You should not file your own application for benefits as this will delay payment.

2. If you are not an existing Kansas Unemployment Benefits user, you will need to register for an account at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Account/Login.aspx.

3. KDOL will also use your personal information to verify your identity with the Social Security Administration – this is a requirement under Kansas and Federal law.

4. If this is a new claim, you will be mailed a monetary determination. The Monetary determination will explain what you are entitled to on a weekly basis and will provide your total benefit amount. If this is an additional claim, you will not receive a new monetary determination. An additional claim is another claim filed within the same benefit year. Through your user account, you can check your weekly amount and the balance of your unemployment claim.

 

23. Will my unemployment benefits be impacted if I receive my longevity bonus pay?

You will have to report all wages received. The Unemployment Center with the Kansas Department of Labor will determine if or how unemployment benefits may be impacted.

 

LEAVE QUESTIONS

24. Can I use my accrued leave during the furlough?  What about previously approved paid time off? (Updated)

A furlough is mandatory leave without pay. Employees who are furloughed 100% cannot use accrued or earned leave. If you were approved for paid time off during your furlough, that request will be canceled.

Employees who are partially furloughed (i.e. 20%, 50%, etc.) may use accrued or earned leave in exchange for hours they would normally work during their adjusted furloughed schedule. Please see the example provided below for guidance.

Example: A full-time employee is furloughed 20%. Their adjusted work week is 32 hours regular, 8 hours furlough. If the employee takes a sick day during the week, they would report their time as follows:

24 Hours Regular
8 Hours Sick
8 Hours Furlough

 

25. What happens to my sick and vacation leave accruals if I am furloughed? (Updated)

An employee’s accrual of sick and vacation leave will be unaffected by a furlough. You will continue to accrue the amount of sick and vacation leave you would have accrued had the furlough not occurred.

The vacation leave maximum accrual is 304 hours. This is a Kansas Board of Regents policy and maximums will not be increased.

 

26. Will I be paid for a holiday that occurs during the furlough period?

Furloughed employees will not receive pay for a holiday that occurs during this time.

 

27. What if I am on Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) during the furlough?

Employees who are off work due to qualifying FMLA circumstances may be subject to the furlough. Any paid time off must be canceled and the employee will be placed in furlough status. Any days of scheduled FMLA leave are documented as furlough days and leave without pay. No days associated with the furlough period will be counted against the employee’s 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

 

28. What if I am on Shared Leave during the furlough?

Employees who are off work due to Shared Leave may be subject to the furlough and documented as leave without pay.

 

29. If K-State is open, but furloughs me on or after April 1, 2020 (the effective date of the FFCRA), can I receive paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?

No, you are not entitled to take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave if you have been furloughed. However, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Human Capital Services (HCS) will submit furlough information on your behalf to the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) Unemployment Center. By HCS submitting your information to KDOL, this will complete the application process for you. Please note you should not file your own application for benefits as this will delay or stop the payment process.  It will be your responsibility to understand the eligibility requirements and report/file weekly claims to receive payments. If you are not an existing Kansas Unemployment Benefits user, you will need to register for an account at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Account/Login.aspx. Should you have questions regarding unemployment benefits, please contact the Kansas Department of Labor unemployment center at 800-292-6333 or at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Contact.aspx.  Visit the KDOL's Weekly Claim FAQ on their website at www.getkansasbenefits.gov for step-by-step instructions. Please reference "My Employer Filed My Claim for Benefits by Spreadsheet: What Do I Do Next?" (pdf) flyer.

 

30. As an employee on partial emergency furlough, how many hours am I eligible to submit for a holiday?

If you were scheduled to work on the holiday, you will be paid for the amount of time that you were scheduled to work. If you were not scheduled to work on the holiday, then you would claim this as unemployment. If you have questions about your scheduled hours, please contact your supervisor. 

  

STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH PLAN (SEHP) BENEFITS

31. What happens to my health insurance if I am furloughed?  

For the duration of the furlough, active employee health insurance continues at the regular employee rate. This is the premium that is normally deducted from the paycheck (employee portion of total premium). If you don’t have a paycheck that is large enough, or a paycheck at all, your health insurance premiums will need to be remitted on a schedule consistent with the semi-monthly pay periods. This payment will be paid directly to Human Capital Services, attention to Diana McElwain.  If you have scheduled furlough days that cause you to miss a paycheck, please contact your Benefits team at benefits@ksu.edu

 

32. Can I change my Health Savings Account (HSA)?

You may change your HSA contribution at any time throughout the year. You’ll find the tutorial to do this at: https://www.k-state.edu/hcs/benefits/health/MAP-tutorials/1BenefitsMapsTutorial_make-hsa-change-and-calculation-instructions.pdf 

 

33. I want to change my Flexible Spending Health Account for medical expenses.  Can I?

Unless you have an IRS qualified mid-year change, you will not be able to change the amount for your FSA health account.

 

34. Because I'm home, I don't need daycare. Can I make a change to my Flexible Spending Account for dependent care?

If you are in a situation in which your child is not attending daycare, because you are home, you may reduce or cancel your flexible spending dependent care account. To do this, follow the MAP tutorial found at: https://www.k-state.edu/hcs/benefits/health/MAP-tutorials/BenefitsMapsTutorial_make-midyear-change.pdf  Select "Communication form" .  Indicate that you are not working due to the current COVID-19 situation. FSA eligible expenses can be found on the NueSynergy Website at https://stateofkansas.wealthcareportal.com/Page/HraResources.  

 

35. I have the additional optional health coverage through MET. What happens to that coverage and premiums?

If you don’t have a check that is large enough, or a check at all, your premiums will accumulate at the State Employee Health Plan (SEHP) until you have a check to collect premiums. If the accumulated premium is large, it may take several paychecks to collect the back owed premiums. If the furlough is more than 30 days, you will have the opportunity to go through direct bill with MET. If you resign or retire from your position while on a furlough, your MET premiums owed may be taken from your leave payout.

 

LIFE INSURANCE (BASIC AND OPTIONAL)

36. What happens to life insurance if on furlough?

Your basic coverage will continue to be paid by K-State for up to 12 months.

If you have the optional coverage, you may pay directly to the Standard for optional coverage for a maximum of 12 months. For more information, contact benefits@ksu.edu  

 

37. I have TEA (Hartford) optional life, how will that work?

You may pay directly to The Hartford to continue your optional plans. For more information, contact benefits@ksu.edu

 

KBOR RETIREMENT PLAN(S)

38. How will a furlough affect my KBOR Retirement Plan contributions?

If you are not receiving a paycheck due to furlough, there will be no contributions to your KBOR Retirement Plan. This includes employee and employer contributions. 

 

39. Will being furloughed affect my vesting in the KBOR Retirement Plan(s)?

A furlough will not affect vesting as participants in the KBOR Retirement Plan(s) are immediately 100% vested upon starting employment. 

 

40. Can I access my KBOR retirement funds while furloughed?

A furlough is not a distributable event to access KBOR retirement funds. You may be able to take age-based withdrawals from your optional savings plans. There may also be loan or hardship withdrawal options. Speak to your investment provider for more information.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act loosens restrictions on accessing retirement funds for employees impacted by COVID-19 and provides options to consider as you navigate financial decisions in the coming months. Kansas Board of Regents Retirement Plan Committee has made changes to the Mandatory and/or Voluntary 403(b) Retirement Plans as a result of this act. Please see further information on the Kansas Board of Regents website, https://www.kansasregents.org/resources/PDF/About/Retirement/042220_CARES_Act_letter_to_Plan_Particiants_FINAL_rb.pdf.

 

41. Can I retire under the KBOR retirement program while furloughed?

Yes, if you are eligible for retirement. Employees who retire between ages of 55-59 must have ten years of service in a benefits-eligible position at a KBOR institution or with the KBOR office. There is no minimum service requirement at age 60 or older. The retiree works directly with the retirement plan provider to explore retirement income distribution options.

 

KPERS RETIREMENT PLAN

42. How will a furlough affect my KPERS Retirement Plan contributions? 

While an employee is furloughed, the employer will make KPERS contributions on behalf of the employee for furloughed wages.  This means the employer will contribute 6% of the employee’s regular gross salary for all time designated as furlough.  These contributions will be in addition to the regular employer contributions.

 

43. Will a furlough count towards my KPERS years of service? 

The furlough will not affect your KPERS service credit.  KPERS has determined that furloughs related to the COVID-19 pandemic will not impact KPERS service credit.

 

 

35. Can I access my KPERS funds while furloughed?

No, you may not withdraw contributions from your KPERS account during a furlough.

 

36. Can I choose to retire under KPERS during a furlough?

Yes, if you are otherwise eligible for KPERS retirement and separate from service.

  

MISCELLANEOUS

37. I am close to retirement and within the three year window for determining Social Security benefits. What is the impact of furlough or voluntary pay reduction on these benefits? Will there be a reduction in my benefits as a result?

Social Security benefits are calculated on the highest 35 years of earnings. Please see the Social Security website for more information, https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/learn.html#h1.

RESOURCES

38. What is the contact information for the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and what services does it provide?

The EAP counselors are available 24/7 at 1-888-275-1205 (option 1) to provide immediate care, concern, and assistance.  TDD/TT 800-697-0353. The EAP provides services including (but not limited to):

  • Short-Term Counseling
  • Marriage and Relationship Concerns
  • Childcare/Eldercare Support
  • Family and Parenting Questions
  • Emotional and Stress Related Issues
  • Grief and Loss
  • Work Related Concerns
  • Financial Planning & Budgeting Support
  • Legal Advise
  • Moving and Housing Advice

Employees also have access to the GuidanceResources® Online. This resource gives you access to timely, expert information on thousands of topics, including, but not limited to wellness, financial planners as well as self-assessments and more at http://guidanceresources.com.

 

39. If I am furloughed and I am facing a financial hardship, what options do I have?

The university will provide an official notice to those that are impacted by the administrative furlough. Community resources may be available to assist individuals with a financial hardship.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available 24/7 at 1-888-275-1205 (option 1) to provide immediate care, concern, and assistance. TDD/TT 800-697-0353.

Employees also have access to the GuidanceResources® Online. This resource gives you access to timely, expert information on thousands of topics, including, but not limited to wellness, financial planners as well as self-assessments and more.

  

40. Who can I contact if I have questions?

Questions not addressed above may be sent to hr@ksu.edu. Benefit related questions can be sent to benefits@ksu.edu.